Battery “Life Support” for the iPhone 5

Battery “Life Support” for the iPhone 5

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Two years ago my iPhone 3GS was often “DBA” (“Dead Before Arrival”) if I left it turned on and unplugged from AC power for just a few hours. The phone’s battery life was in a word, “Dismal.”

iPhone batteryAs I wrote in “Juicing Up” Your iPhone’s Battery” back in April of 2011, I effectively halved my iPhone’s power drain by slipping it into a Mophie Juice Pack Air, a supplemental battery cum hard plastic case.

Last October, I replaced my aging 3GS  with Apple’s latest incarnation of its smartphone, the iPhone 5. But because the new phone was larger than the old one, I couldn’t use the Juice Pack Air with it.

While impatiently waiting for Mophie to manufacture an iPhone 5 battery case, I was again forced to keep a wary eye on my phone’s level of battery charge, turning off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and shutting down apps running in background, to prevent the phone from quickly conking out.

But about a month ago, my prayers were answered by Mophie, and now I’m all “juiced up” when I’m on the road with my iPhone.

Two-Case Option

Mophie has recently released two supplemental battery cases for the iPhone 5: The $79.95 Juice Pack Helium and the $99.95 Juice Pack Air.

This promotional video from Mophie will give you a visual feel for the Juice Pack Air, but the Helium model (which I purchased) looks virtually identical.


Powering Up

You can set up both cases to draw down either the iPhone 5’s or the Mophie’s battery first. You plug the micro-USB tip on the Mophie’s cable into the case and USB tip other end into a computer or Apple’s AC connector to charge both case and phone simultaneously.

Here’s the additional usage that Mophie claims you’ll get with its battery cases:

Helium for iPhone 5 Juice Pack for iPhone 5
Talk time (on 3G) Up to 6 hours Up to 8 hours
Internet use (on 3G) Up to 6 hours Up to 8 hours
Internet use (on LTE) Up to 6 hours Up to 8 hours
Internet use (on Wi-Fi) Up to 7 hours Up to 10 hours
Audio playback Up to 30 hours Up to 40 hours
Video playback Up to 7 hours Up to 10 hours

Although I probably would have spent the additional $20 to buy Juice Pack Air for iPhone if it would have been released at the same time that the Helium that I purchased came out, I’m finding that the battery charge on my iPhone 5 doesn’t go down at all, and even the Helium’s internal battery maintains at least some charge over several hours.

Weight and Size Matters

Juice Pack HeliumThe iPhone 5 weighs 3.95 ounces. The Juice Pack Air will add another 2.68 ounces to that.

The iPhone 5 is 4.87 inches long, but once you’ve put the Juice Pack Air on it, the phone’s “pocket and purse” length will be 5.54 inches. The Juice Pack Air more than double’s the iPhone 5’s depth, going from 0.30 to 0.63 inches.

The Mophie Helium for iPhone 5 is slightly lighter (2.44 ounces), and about 0.05 inches smaller in all dimensions (2.49 in x 5.49 in x 0.59 in) than the more powerful Juice Pack Air.

I was concerned that the Helium would make my iPhone feel like a brick if I carried it in its accustomed place, my front-pants pocket. But even though it’s heftier than when I had it clad in the Incase Snap Case for iPhone 5 which I purchased to prevent my “5” from getting dinged up, it’s still comfortable enough of a fit whether I’m standing, walking or seated.

Bump and Bruise Protection

The Mophie Juice Pack Air that I bought for my iPhone 3GS had a slick, hard plastic surface. While it provided some protection against damage to my phone, I was always concerned that the phone might slip out of my hand.

In contrast, the Helium case has a “matte” finish, so my phone is probably less likely to “hit the deck.” Another plus: The 3GS case was a dark black, while the iPhone 5 Mophie Helium case comes in either a “dark metallic” gray or “silver metallic” color, and either should make it much easier to find one’s iPhone in the black-lined innards of a daypack, briefcase, or purse.

Mophie Case Colors

(The Juice Pack Air for iPhone 5 is available in black, red, and white.)

My Single Gripe

There’s only one minor annoyance I’ve encountered with the Helium for iPhone 5: The bottom of the case is so long that it’s difficult to push the earbud plug into the jack on the bottom of the phone. The extension cable that Mophie provides to solve that issue seems about twice as long as it needs to be, so I’m going to stop at my local Radio Shack store to see if I can find a shorter adapter.

Don’t Leave Home without It

Although the iPhone 5 battery life may be longer than that of the older 3GS model, I highly recommend shopping for a supplemental battery case like those sold my Mophie if you own an iPhone.

(Mophie Juice Pack products are available for a number of Apple devices. Purchasing them from helps Tales Told From The Road continue to bring you a wide range of travel-related stories.)

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